Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Five SFF novels drawn from neglected histories

Ausma Zehanat Khan's books include The Bloodprint, the first book in the Khorasan Archives, and its sequel to The Black Khan. At she tagged five sci-fi & fantasy books drawn from neglected histories, including:
The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang

This is an unforgettable book, the kind of book that arrives once in a generation and blazes an indelible trail, shaping everything that comes after. The scope of the history encompassed, the sheer scale of myth and legend, the precision of the author’s imagination coupled with her gift for language are necessary for a novel of such fierce originality and grandeur. The Poppy War invokes the history of 20th century China with startling boldness, an ambition distilled into the character of a poor, dark-skinned, outcast orphan who must survive in a world hostile to her existence, through sheer self-belief and grit. Rin bitterly struggles through the Nikara Empire’s exclusive military academy Sinegard, impelled by the need to become something, to have something, in a world determined to deny her. She soon discovers that she possesses the gifts of a shamanic Phoenix with the ability to determine who should live or die, in an empire faced with devastating war. The massacre at Golyn Niis parallels the Rape of Nanking (Nanjing), the costs of war made agonizingly explicit to a girl who was so recently a student. This is a coming-of-age story unlike any other, deriving from the grand canvas of a history that should be much more familiar to a Western audience.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Poppy War.

--Marshal Zeringue